Future and Lil Uzi Vert have both had incredible years. The veteran trap star and everyone’s favorite emo rapper have showered us with countless releases and some of the biggest and best songs of the year. Near the top of the year, Uzi launched his long-awaited Eternal Atake album featuring hits like “That Way” and “Lo Mein.” Future tightened up and delivered a surprisingly solid body of work with High Off Life which included hits like “Life Is Good (feat. Drake)” and “Trillionaire (feat. YoungBoy Never Broke Again).” The teaming up of Pluto and Baby Pluto, as their alter egos are so named, was a long time coming for many reasons. The two have collaborated multiple times previously and Future has had a clear influence on the emotional revelations and futuristic trap beats that populate Uzi’s discography. In a way, it’s like a father and son joining forces for the fun of it, not because they have anything in particular to prove. With that being said, Pluto x Baby Pluto is a massive disappointment.
Future is no stranger to collaborative projects. The Atlanta rapper has joint projects with Drake, Gucci Mane, Young Thug, and more, so he is more than well versed in the language of collaborative albums. The greatest collaborative albums are born from artists who have just as many differences as they do similarities. They step into each other’s lanes and push themselves and each other to reach for something bigger that they couldn’t have done on a solo album. Absolutely nothing on Pluto x Baby Pluto does this. In fact, the Uzi and Future seem to cancel each other out. After gifting us two of the strongest mainstream rap albums of the year, Uzi and Future threw together a microwaveable 16 track project with absolutely no regard for narrative or variety. Any one of these sixteen tracks could have been on any of either rapper’s many albums. With the exception of two or three songs, every song is about the same thing. Future and Uzi trade bars about luxury fashion brands, expensive cars, jewels, money, guns, women, drugs, etc. There isn’t really any shift in their approach to any of these subjects; they inundate their audience with tired metaphors and mostly uninteresting flows about the same things.
The opening track, “Stripes Like Burberry,” is a standout, but that may just be because of its placement on the tracklist — it had the good luck to be the first of the slew of recyclable tracks. On “Burberry,” the rappers harmonize over an intergalactic trap beat about their come-ups as trappers and in the rap game and their mission to make their mothers proud: “I been lookin’ at the sun, I can’t worry/I’m my mama oldest son, can’t get buried.” Lyrically, the song has echoes of Future’s “Trapped in the Sun,” the opening track on High Off Life, and sonically, the overall feel of DJ ESCO’s production recalls the space theme of Uzi’s Eternal Atake. Unfortunately, that’s where Pluto x Baby Pluto‘s connection to each artist’s most recent solo work begins and ends. If anything, given the title of the project, this joint album should have capitalized on the outer space theme and turned it into something special. Instead, we got more of the same, just less interesting this time. The rest of the tracks on this project are mostly forgettable. However, there are a few bright spots. “Drinkin and Smokin” will likely be the breakout hit of the album with its sleek guitar-inflected production courtesy of Hagan and 12Hunna. Uzi’s unconventional flow works surprisingly well here, but it’s Future’s borderline comical Jesus metaphors (“She called me Messiah, the way I floated in her ocean/Yelled, “Jesus Christ,” but I wasn’t causin’ commotion”) that really bring the song home. “Million Dollar Baby” is only intriguing because of the ominous piano and flute in the background; Pluto x Baby Pluto is overly reliant on its production to make it worth its one-hour runtime. Future’s nimble flow anchors “That’s It,” but, again, the song lacks that fire that makes his tracks pop. Future’s solo song, “Rockstar Chain,” is a large serving of villainy with a spoonful of misogyny (“Ain’t tryna be cool with no rap nigga, I’m fuckin’ they ho, dawg”) and, of course, it falls flat. Finally, “She Never Been to Pluto” is only good for its Eternal Atake callback: “Balenci’, Balenci’, Balenci!”
Pluto x Baby Pluto avoids completely falling apart thanks to two songs: “Lullaby” and “I Don’t Wanna Break Up.” The former, Lil Uzi Vert’s sole solo song, sees Uzi digging into what should have anchored the project. Future and Uzi are great for a flexing anthem or four, but where they truly excel are in their more emotional and revelatory trap ballads. Their vulnerability is what connects them musically and it was a sorely missed opportunity not to explore that on this record. Over a luscious Bobby Raps and DY Krazy production, Uzi unpacks his trauma, his shortcomings, and his wrongdoings. He raps, “See, I saw a nigga get killed back when I was a toddler, yeah/So how I’m ‘posed to love, girl? Now how I’m ‘posed to fear?” On, “I Don’t Wanna Break Up,” after myriad tracks of some blatant misogyny and a lot of womanizing, Uzi and Future duet about trying to salvage a relationship they care about. They ultimately come to the decision that the demise of the relationship was collateral damage in order to reach the heights they believe that they are destined for: “Sometimes you gotta take a sacrifice in your love life if you want the riches and the ice.” With Future’s reference to Jay-Z’s “Beach Is Better” (“I brought sand to the beach to make it better”) and Uzi’s interpolation of J. Cole’s “No Role Modelz” (“Save her/Don’t save her”) on the bridge, this is one of the more well-rounded tracks on Pluto x Baby Pluto.
You could remove these 16 songs from existence and neither artists’ discographies would be impacted. This is not to say that every album has to be earth-shattering or culture-shifting. No. That’s an entirely unreasonable expectation for any artist. At the very least, however, the music should be good. The songs on Pluto x Baby Pluto aren’t good. They’re passable, but mostly boring. It’s an absolute chore to sit through this album when, in reality, it should be a thrilling victory lap celebrating both rappers’ longevity and their highly successful years.
Key Tracks: “Lullaby” | “I Don’t Wanna Break Up” | “Drinkin and Smokin” | “Stripes Like Burberry”